“One,two..One two” Khushboo grooved to the latest dance steps taught by her choreographer. He opened the door and silently let himself in, inwardly admiring the gracious steps of Khushboo. Khushboo Garewal was the daughter of construction magnate Vijay Garewal. She was headstrong and wanted things her way only. It was either her way or the highway. That was why she had refused her fathers tailor made job offer and instead ventured out for modeling. She had the X-factor which many others were missing and which often becomes the ticket to stardom in the entertainment industry. She knew that for herself. She had got the opportunity to show her talent at many national and international platforms and she was indeed appreciated yet she was miles away from what she desired. Her career was heading northwards now and she was fully interested in it.
Akshay knew this streak of hers and he always felt wary of confessing his love only because of this reason. For a successful name like her, she should have had at least a dozen relationships by now, had she been someone else. But Khushboo was much focused. She was so engrossed in her profession that she hardly had time for her family or for any other relation. However she always managed time for Akshay. Whenever she would get some time for herself she would instantly inform Akshay who would leave everything at bay to just spend time with her. They would go on dates, on vacations, even kissed but Khushboo was not just willing to take this to the next level. Not that she faced resistance from her family or other external factors it was just resistance from her soul which she could not help but comply with. Khushboo, in many ways, reminded Akshay of his commitment phobic fraternal who was also the same when it came to relationships. Only that Shaan had at least had a century of affairs while Khushboo had none, till date.
However Akshay had accepted her in every sense, as she was. The problem was with Madhvi. She was always hell bent on him marrying a traditional girl who could fit into the concept of a “regular bride”. The choice of bride was not a problem. Getting Madhvi round to accepting Khushboo as a Daughter-In-Law was not a problem. Making Khushboo agree to the proposal was one. Khushboo wanted to live a free life laced with ambitions and dreams and occasional glimpses of love provided by her family and a casual relationship. Nothing more than that. When Akshay heard about Khanak, he did not know what to say. Khanak was the only woman Akshay was close to after Madhvi and Khushboo. She had been his best friend and to tell the truth he had even contemplated about dating her. However things did not progress much as they two lived in opposite corners of the country. And even Akshay had dropped the idea later but now Madhvi had dropped a bomb by proposing her name.
An hour and a half passed by as Khushboo grooved to the steps with utmost perfection and practiced each a dozen times in between stealing glances at Akshay and asking him how it was, through her eyes. Akshay, time and again, kept applauding her through signs as he did always. After she completed her performance she came down to sit with him. She gulped water down her throat as if she had been thirsty for decades.
“Mom wants me to marry somewhere”. (A silent and out-of-the-blue declaration)
“Then oblige her”(All she could manage)
“Tor mone hoy ami emon kichu korte pari ja tor kharap korbe(Do you think I can do something which hurts you)?” Subarnalata patted her daughters head fondly. She had broken the news about Akshay to her, finally. She had not dared to tell this to Shankar or her husband before because she knew that Khanak would then straight dismiss the proposal. She knew Madhvi very well. Both of them were Bangladeshi immigrants. They had grown up together under the patronage of their Zamindaar legacy. However partition changed it all. The muslims and rajakars murdered their fathers and their families had to somehow seek refuge in West Bengal. They both had been bosom friends in village and their friendship continued in Kolkata until one day Madhvi left for Delhi to pursue her higher studies while Subarnalata was married off at a tender age. Much had happened in their lives but now life had once again given them a brilliant opportunity to reconcile. More so, she considered Akshay as a perfect partner for Khanak, considering his family values, his “not in the rat race” attitude, his simple living yet high thinking and a perfect family lineage. What more could she ask for? Madhvis younger son was nearer to Khanak in terms of age but that said he failed on all other fronts.
Subarnalata lowered her head and saw that Khanak was fast asleep in her dreams. She looked just like a baby, she thought. She caressed the strands of hair on her cheek and silently put her daughters head on the pillow. She got up and walked off.
Khanak was in a half-sleep. She had known Akshay for over a decade now. He was mostly an introvert romantic, too shy in the presence of women. They had gelled together pretty well and had been the best of friends at a certain point of time. He was one of those friends whom she would meet occasionally especially when their families met each other. She had even thought that Akshay harboured secret feelings for her, but that might just have been her exaggeration. Time had passed too fast and she had hardly met him over the years. He had gone to Singapore for a couple of years and that was when she had last met him. Khanak had seen romantic mushy mushy movies onscreen but she well knew that she did not desire such kind of love. She always wanted her relationship to be realist and pragmatic. She was so concerned with other aspects of life that she could hardly give in to an overtly romantic relationship which would consume her existence. She could never carry the burden of such a close relationship. Though she loved to love and to be loved she was pretty careful in choosing relationships and she wanted her relationships to be casual yet affectionate, she did not want to love anyone beyond a certain level or crave for anyone. In simple words she wanted to keep it simple yet sweet!
“Maybe I should talk to Suraj.” She concluded.